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The Personal Librarian

by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray X
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2021, 352 pages

    Jun 2022, 352 pages


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There are currently 84 reader reviews for The Personal Librarian
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Laura O. (Los Angeles, CA)

Fascinating and challenging
This is a wonderful book that brought a topic to me that I'd never seen discussed before in a novel, passing for white in America of the early 20th century. The book is very easy to read but challenges the reader at the same time. The characters are engaging and complex, the solutions aren't simple. It was absolutely delightful!
Linda J. (Urbana, OH)

Well, I Never...
...heard of Belle Marion Greener. The daughter of Richard Greener who was the first African-American graduate of Harvard (class of 1870) and spent his life fighting for civil rights along side W.E.B. DuBois and Frederick Douglass
I also never heard of Belle da Costa Greene who worked as J. P. Morgan's Personal Librarian and helped him manage his library and art collection into a pre-eminent for manuscripts and classics. Her mother was Genevieve Greener who decided to drop the final "R" in her last name and allow her light-skinned children to pass so they would get the opportunities they deserved and would not be able to get.
I was on the edge of my seat so often during my reading of this book - waiting for the boom to drop.

Bella lived a charmed life being able to take advantage of so much that working for Morgan allowed her.

I only have one question after reading this delicious book. When was Bella's secret revealed?
Arden A. (Longboat Key, FL)

A Secret Well Kept
I have not read anything by this author before, but considering how much I enjoyed this book, I will follow her. I enjoy historical fiction that incorporates real people and events, and this book does that. The main character was a fascinating women who kept a difficult secret her entire life. It is not easy to live a lie, especially in the spotlight, as she was, but Belle did it successfully. It also is rife with details about valuable and priceless art and books, as well as what life was like during that century. It's an education in and of itself. You can almost see and hear what it is like to ride a carriage through the streets of NY. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading other books by Marie Benedict.
Beth S. (Ft. Pierce, FL)

Unpredictable Title By Marie Benedict
Marie Benedict's historical fiction novels provide pleasurable surprises. THE PERSONAL LIBRARIAN adds elements of mystery. The writing duo of Victoria Christopher Murray and Marie Benedict immersed me in the professional and personal life of J. P. Morgan's librarian, Belle da Costa Greene. What a dream position for a young woman of modest upbringing! Life at the turn of the last century was challenging for many women: changing laws about women's votes and limited education. Prestigious Morgan's art collector and buyer of his treasures, Belle kept an intriguing secret. She was extremely successful but private. Please don't forget the historical and author notes at the end of this profound book.

the personal librarian
I enjoyed the book. While I was reading I didn't know that this was based on an actual person. It was amazing to see what she had to go through as a woman and a person of color to live and work during that time. I'm not sure that things have changed enough. I would recommend it for book clubs as it would generate several topics to discuss.

Personal Librarian
This is an incredible book about an amazing woman. A young black woman passing as white, entered the world of J.P. Morgan and conquered it. Taking a job as J.P.Morgan's personal secretary, she proceeded to help him create and build the Pierpoint Morgan Library. Based on a real woman, this fictional account brings to light and life Belle de Costa Greene. Amazing on so many levels, Personal Librarian is not a book to be missed. Never mind that the writing is excellent, the story is fascinating.
Charlene M. (Myrtle Beach, SC)

The Personal Librarian
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray blends the angst of trying to fit into, not just a male dominated world, but a white world as well.
In 1905, Belle Greene's mother has decided to give up her heritage as a black woman, to give her children the advantages of education & jobs that are available to only a few. Belle gets a highly coveted job to be JP Morgan's personal librarian. Marie Benedict at her best.
Nona F. (Evanston, IL)

Perfect tale for Hollywood biopic
If Belle da Costa Greene, born Belle Marion Greener, had not existed, Hollywood would have had to invent her, and many people would have thought the story pure fiction co-authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray have written a riveting fictionalized biography of a fascinating woman, the daughter of a prominent black Reconstruction-era civil rights activist, who lived most of her life passing white in New York City as millionaire J. P. Morgan's personal librarian.

Without formal training, Greene was the force that shaped the important Morgan collection of medieval manuscripts and early modern books for over forty years, and helped steer the Morgan family into opening the collection to the general public. A fascinating story in itself, Belle da Costa Greene's circumstances and inner monologues give an unusual double view of white privilege at a time even more intolerant of "the other" than today. Largely forgotten today and hardly recognized at the institution she led for decades, Greene is a figure deserving of greater recognition, which this compelling novel should achieve.

Beyond the Book:
  Belle da Costa Greene

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